Since 1973 the Transport Studies Unit has established an international research reputation in transport research.

Based within the world-leading School of Geography and the Environment at the University of Oxford, the TSU approaches global transport challenges from social science and holistic perspectives. This approach allows TSU researchers to ask questions that might not be asked in other sectors, building a comprehensive picture of the complex challenges facing transport today and in the future. Our position within Geography and the University fosters interdisciplinary collaboration with researchers in other parts of the University and based elsewhere.

A unit of interdisciplinary experts

From geography to sociology, urban studies to economics, and beyond, the TSU draws on the latest relevant developments in various disciplines and research fields.

Our core team of researchers come from various disciplinary backgrounds, bringing with them a range of insight and expertise which enriches our research practice.

Outside Oxford the TSU works in partnership with colleagues in many UK universities, and has very active and well-established links with universities and research institutes across the EU, North America, Asia and increasingly Africa and Latin America.

The TSU researchers also work with partners from government and the corporate sector, for instance to monitor and evaluate technological innovations or to develop new forms of governing urban transport systems.

The TSU has an excellent track record in collaborative projects and is keen to develop new partnerships with research groups and funding agencies. We are always developing projects and ideas for future research.

Please get in touch at enquiries@tsu.ox.ac.uk if you would like to discuss any projects or collaborations with us.

Outreach and Impact

The TSU undertakes a range of other outreach activities targeted at local, national and international policy-makers, firms and corporations, as well as NGOs and other third sector organisations. Many of these activities are built into our research projects and include conferences, workshops, seminars, policy reports and policy briefings.

Some of our recent projects have had an impact on public policy and debate both locally in Oxfordshire and internationally.

Research Agenda 2020-2025

TSU Research Agenda 2020-2025

For information on our current and future research, please see our Research Agenda:


Annual Report

Annual Report 2021: How we've moved forwards in pictures, words, facts and figures

TSU Annual Report 2021
Contents
  • Message from the Director
  • Our work
  • New Projects
  • Highlights
  • Timeline

Alternative formats are available on request from

Message from the Director

Professor Tim Schwanen

From a transport perspective, 2021 has been a year of rebound and potential. Across the planet, transport activity has, in many ways, recovered from the exceptional declines triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown policies in 2020. This recovery is not free from paradox: many cities and countries have seen waves of infection and mortality that clearly exceeded the first wave in Spring 2020. But these waves have seen much weaker policy responses and therefore resulted in less impact on transport systems. More people have remained on the move and more frequently, whereas recent variants of the virus have been more transmissible than the original alpha variant. This situation reflects the waning public and political acceptability of renewed stay-at-home orders and other restrictions on mobility. There is indeed a strong individual and collective need to travel, and the risk remains that carbon-intensive forms of mobility become further locked-in as people trade public transport for car use, and airlines and governments seek to rekindle an ailing aviation sector.

There is, however, cause for hope at the intersection of transport and the climate crisis: electric mobility is now taking off - albeit in spatially and socially starkly uneven ways; a fair share of the pop-up infrastructures for cycling and walking that emerged during lockdowns has become more durable; the fly-less movement is gaining popularity and followers; and many organisations are allowing more home-working and are actively reducing business travel compared to before the pandemic. Transport was also more prominent as a topic at the 26th UN Conference of Parties (COP26) meeting in Glasgow than at any previous COP. All of these developments are making transport even more political than it was, and it remains an open question what they mean for the many forms of inequality and injustice that are baked into transport systems.

It is in this context that many of the TSU's activities in 2021 must be seen. The shocks and changes transport systems are undergoing have been central to our research activities and executive education programme. This Annual Report offers an overview of many of the team's new initiatives and achievements. 2021 has not been an easy year as we worked mostly from home and sometimes dispersed across the planet but I am immensely proud of what we have collectively achieved.

Tim Schwanen, Professor of Transport Geography

"The shocks and changes transport systems are undergoing have been central to our activities and executive education programme. This Annual Report offers an overview of many of the team's new achievements. 2021 has not been an easy year as we mostly worked from home and sometimes dispersed across the planet but I am immensely proud of what we have collectively achieved." Tim Schwanen, 2021


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